Well… this past week has been a hard working, fast paced blur. As you may or may not have seen, a few of us have been at the Reading & Leeds Festival this past weekend working hard and doing press interviews for a lot of artists! But hey, when there is rewarding work, there is always a chance to play harder! So that is exactly what we did.
Over the weekend we unfortunately did not get to see many bands because of the sheer volume of work capacity that was motivating us like robots. Myself, I got to see (my favourite act of the weekend) A$AP Rocky, Nine Inch Nails, Eminem, Skrillex, Deftones, and a bit of System Of A Down. However, there was one notable headline act which quite literally changed my opinion on them all over again, and that was Biffy Clyro.
I remember first coming across Biffy Clyro, when they were merely but a buzz band in the underground, coming out around the same time as the first great wave of British rock music of the 2000’s. Along with bands like The Cooper Temple Clause, Reuben, yourcodenameis:milo, Million Dead (Frank Turner fans not in the know, check them the fuck out!), Kinesis, Hell Is For Heroes, Hundred Reasons, and Vex Red, Biffy Clyro sat comfortably within the middle of all that.
Whilst leaning more of their influences among post-hardcore and grunge contemporaries like At The Drive-In, Nirvana, and Pixies, they made a raw and angular approach to their already slowly progressing sound.
It was not until their third album (and personal favourite of mine), ‘Infinity Land’, that I really started to take notice of their ever present fanbase, musical progression, and rise in popularity. Already hearing of their crowd favourite ’57’, it was when I first come across a little tune called ‘There Is No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake’ that my ears pricked like satellites to an alien signal from the Andromeda Galaxy. Upon buying ‘Infinity Land’, I found a comfort in knowing that British rock music was most definitely still stronger than it ever has been (with some of the previous bands having split up), and that Biffy Clyro may be on to something special.
Seeing them play live a handful of times was even cooler, also getting to meet more of the rabid ‘old school’ fans who have a penchant to yell “MON’ THE BIFFY!” every time a new song is about to come on. But I could see why they championed them…
Over the course of the years, they ALWAYS stuck true to their fans, they made them feel welcome and part of an external family by taking their time to interact with their fans as much as possible. None of them paid meet or greets that you get today or any of that shit, just down to earth time with them before and after gigs to which they were more than happy to spend time with you, even if they did have their own personal demons they were trying to tackle (and eventually had done).
It was only when the album ‘Puzzle’ came out that the true potential of Biffy Clyro really came to light, and that they were really on to something truly special in terms of mainstream success.
The last time I saw them live was on the Kerrang! tour in 2008/09 I think, and that was when my favourite band The Bronx were supporting them. And blimey, was that a show and a half! Biffy did great at cementing some kind of reputation that they are more than capable of headline performances, and that they were ready to take on the world.
Now over the next year or so, I must confess I became a little bit bored of the over exposure that the band received on radio and television. Whilst they were writing terrific material, it got to that point where it was like…. “Yeah man, whatever. Change the station.”
Admittedly so, I even grew very, very bored very quickly of their last two albums ‘Only Revolutions’ and ‘Opposites’. Now do not get me wrong, they are good albums, but they really lacked the true grit of their previous albums, and even dare I say ‘Puzzle’ (the one that catapulted them to stardom). I had a couple opportunities to see them live, but I was either busy or I just did not have the money, and begrudged actually paying the money to hear a majority of the newer material which I was not particularly fond of. Call it ignorance if you will, but I just was not sold at the time.
So… fast forward to Reading Festival 2013. Backstage there was some notable friction between the Biffy Clyro and Nine Inch Nails camps, due to NIN having their set cut short, because of a mixture of Biffy’s management, and something to do with the promoters. Whatever it was, it was merely but playground bullshit. Following this information , I was still dubious about seeing Biffy more so than I was before. But after the utmost convincing of the HTF team present to “fucking sort it out, and go watch them with us”, I did. And for what it is worth… I am eternally grateful.
What followed was one of the most uplifting and uniting headline experiences I have seen in many years. Even though it was Biffy’s eighth time at Reading Festival (nine if you count Marmaduke Duke), it finally saw them after all these years, rise to the very top of the game. The coveted headline slot of Reading Festival, where their contemporaries have played before them like Nirvana and Pixies. It was almost a celebration rather than a performance. Equipped with a massive and awesome stage prop arsenal including fireworks, pyrotechnics, strings of paper fountains, and more, it was like the ULTIMATE Biffy Clyro experience, without the stage set overshadowing the marksman like musicianship that entwined with it. This crowd was white hot tonight, and even more so vocal than the band at times.
Songs spanned throughout their career in their set, from ‘Blackened Sky’ to ‘Opposites’, they had a little something for everyone. It was just as evident as daylight, the looks of the faces of the people surrounding us that they were just as happy to be there as the band were. The band lapping up every moment without outstaying their welcome. Also with Simon Neil setting his guitar on fire whilst holding up red flares like a scene out of Platoon, it made for some great rock and roll imagery!
But afterwards, it finally sank in. My faith in Biffy Clyro was truly and utterly restored, and my pessimistic ignorance was kicked out the window, and I was very grateful!
Sirs Simon Neil, Ben Johnston, and James Johnston, thankyou so much for proving me wrong. You have more than earned your place to be headlining these stages, regardless of any doubters out there. The show you put on that night proved many things to myself personally, but more importantly… it showed that you are still championed by the underdogs, and that you are well and truly, and will always be one with us. Your hard work has gone more than noticed, and now you have every reason to smile and celebrate.
Here is to the next decade, MON’ THE BIFFY!